Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, sitting in confined spaces for long periods can cause a number of problems – considerable pressure on joints, crimped circulation, increased risk of blood clots, stiff, cramped muscles, increased fatigue, back and neck pain and knee discomfort.
Travel tips for planes and trains:
Good posture and proper body mechanics are the key to prevention of back, neck, and joint discomfort when traveling. Try these:
* Make frequent posture changes: get up every forty-five minutes or so to walk or stand.
* Adjust the seat as best you can to an upright position.
* Slide your bottom back, until it touches the back of the seat.
* If there’s a big space between your lower back and the chair seat, use a lumbar pillow or rolled sweater and place it behind your back.
* Use a traveler’s pillow to decrease neck strain when snoozing.
* If your feet don’t touch the floor, place a backpack or carry-on on the floor to rest your feet on.
* Shift weight frequently to reduce prolonged pressure on any given point.
* Hips and knees should be at ninety-degree angles.
* Keep shoulders relaxed.
* Let forearms and elbows rest on armrests.
* If armrests are too low or hard, use a small pillow under each forearm.
1. Circle feet in one direction then the other.
2. Pump feet by lifting heels, keeping toes on floor.
3. Pump feet like pushing on a car accelerator.
4. Tap toes like windshield wiper blades on a car. Keep your heels on the floor and tap toes from left to right.
5. Inhale, pull oxygen all the way down to the bottom of the rib cage. Feel your chest expand. Exhale and pull your abdominals in. Hold them in to a slow count of ten. Do not hold your breath. Relax and repeat often.
6. Shrug and circle shoulders.
7. Press shoulder blades back towards spine and then down towards waist.
Travel tips for automobiles:
We all spend a lot of time coming and going in our cars. Most of the time, we’re slumped over the wheel. Good driving posture can help a driver stay comfortable and alert.
Adjust your car seat so it will help keep your body properly aligned while you drive. All these little adjustments will make a big difference in your posture and comfort.
1. Bring the back of your car seat to its straightest position. Ideally, it should incline no more than 110 degrees.
2. Sit with your bottom all the way back, so it touches the back of the backrest. Make sure rib cage is not drooping. Lift it up slightly.
3. Adjust the headrest so you can sit with the back of your head resting against it. This position puts your head directly over your spine and allows your neck muscles to relax while your drive.
4. Most of us were taught to hold the steering wheel at the ten and two o’clock position. They don’t teach that anymore in driving schools. Now they ask you to hold on at an eight o’clock and four o’clock position.
This position is safer in the event that your airbag deploys. This position is also better for your posture as it allows your arms to hang more vertically by your sides, which allows your neck muscles to relax, greatly reducing discomfort and fatigue.
5. Don’t forget to buckle up your seat belt.
The following exercises can be done when you are stopped at a red light. They will help strengthen your mid and upper back as well as your abdominals.
1. Lift up your rib cage and press the back of your head against the headrest. Stay lifted that way while you drive.
2. Press the back of your shoulders into the seat as if you were trying to bring your shoulder blades closer together. Hold for ten seconds without holding your breath then relax. Repeat several times.
3. Tighten your abdominals. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, pull your belly button toward your spine and hold for ten seconds. See if you can feel the bottom of your rib cage pull in. Don’t hold your breath. Gradually build up to holding the abdominals for thirty seconds.
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